[based on a true story]

“Someday you will die. Play hard now”

My pretend career as a writer isn’t a new thing, I’ve been not finishing projects for years. I just found the scraps of one of those projects and was reminded of a more idealistic version of myself when I thought I could do anything, because prior to that point I had. At some point I stopped finishing things, I don’t know why and that’s probably a different story all together, but this was happening right during that transition from “ship everything” to “ship almost nothing.” I thought I’d share some of it with you.

So the back story here is that a fellow named Jon Resh, who was not only one of my favorite people in the entire world, but also my first roommate ever, had just self published a book called Amped : Notes from a Go-Nowhere Punk Band. It was the story of SPOKE, a band he’d been in that was now broken up. A band that sort of changed my life – though I’d never tell them that – and if I’m honest it wasn’t just the band, it was the people and the scene and the shows and everything. It was a fleeting moment that will always be magical, and helped shaped my life in so many ways I’ve since.

This was 2001-ish, just after I’d moved to Los Angeles and I thought I’d transition my writing career (which I’d recently morphed from my own zines to columns in magazines) into screen writer. Many years before when I wanted to be an active part of the punk scene, but upon realizing I couldn’t play an instrument and was too self conscious to be a vocalist, I started putting out records of my friends bands. I realized I liked that behind the scenes yet shaping things position. I’d always loved movies and now that I lived in the heart of the movie industry I thought similar logic would apply. My first idea – make a movie out of Amped. I talked to Jon about it and he didn’t seem horrified by the idea. I thought I’d use a bunch of his stuff from the book and add some of my own stories and flat out make some of it up for extra excitement value. I started writing. At some point I stopped. I don’t recall why or when, but the text docs I found today were last edited in early 2003. I read them and smiled, maybe it’s me being nostalgic or maybe there’s something more. After the jump you’ll find a very short summary/treatment idea for the whole movie and the intro that I thought up. There’s a lot more done but this is just a bit of it. These are copied directly from those 10 year old docs and entirely unedited.

Maybe you’ll enjoy them.



The middle aged asian guy who just sat down at the table across from me has the most painful combover I’ve seen in my entire life. It’s depressing just looking at it. He keeps brushing it over with his hand which makes it that much more obvious. I can’t stop watching him and it’s making me sad. Everything about him makes me sad, the combover was just the first thing I noticed. His shorts don’t match his shirt. His jacket is ill fitting – probably purchased in the 90’s before he put on 50 pounds. His backpack is overstuffed, like he’s trying to anticipate any thing he might possibly need throughout the day but instead of being prepared he’s stuck lugging this heavy thing around all day.

Going to Disneyland is easy for me. I live 30 minutes away and have an annual pass. If I have a few free hours and the desire I can go jump on Space Mountain and then go back to my regular life without any real interruption. I imagine that’s not the case for him. When he’s not looking around self consciously he’s focused on a map of the park. And not just casually looking at it, I’m talking hunched over forehead veins throbbing sweaty brow focused. He’s got a pen and is making some notes on it – plans I imagine.

I start crafting this guys story in my head. He’s traveled from far away for this, maybe even been saving up for it for years. Or waiting to collect enough vacation days to allow him to make the journey. It’s a big deal to him regardless and he doesn’t want to miss anything. I imagine him being a lonely guy, distant from coworkers and neighbors. But he’s used to it. I can see that all over his face, he’s very comfortable being uncomfortable. He’s comfortable being alone because that’s all he’s ever known. He can’t relate to other people. He stopped trying a long time ago.

I think about what that would be like. I travel alone when business requires it and enjoy the peaceful time with just myself that provides, I like being alone with my thoughts to help sort through them, but I can’t imagine this. If I go to the movies by myself half of the motivation is to get away from everyone and escape to some other world, even if only for a few hours. This guys motivation isn’t to get away, it’s to go to Disneyland. Being alone isn’t the goal of his trip, it’s just business as usual. I wonder how long it’s been since his last non-transactional conversation he’s had with another person. I can picture years and years of slogging away to an office and never talking to anyone. The same as his trip here to Disneyland – he’s on his own with all of this activity around him that he’s not a part of.

And he’s hiding out in this corner of the park studying this map to make sure he doesn’t miss a thing.

I try to picture him on a ride. Does he enjoy it? Does he smile? Or is he just crossing things off a list. I want to think he enjoys it. I want it to make sense. I want this to be enjoyable for him. I feel his pain and isolation and I desperately want this trip to the happiest place on earth to have an impact on his life. I want to see him stop fucking with his hair and smile. I want to see him content, I want him to feel that this trip was worth it. That the years he planned and saved to be here weren’t for nothing. I don’t want him to go home, back to his depressing life thinking this dream trip was yet another disappointment. One more thing that didn’t live up to the hype.

And then, my whole story is shattered when his family joins him at the table with a tray of food. His wife, his kids. They speak english. He smiles. They smile. His wife kisses him without even thinking about it, like it’s just this second nature thing. It doesn’t even require a reaction because it’s so common place. He’s loved and he knows it. Nothing I thought about him is true. Visiting Disneyland is as second nature to him as it is to me. He can come here anytime he wants, and his family and friends are easily in tow.

I’m suddenly so happy for him, and at the same time horrified about what all this says about me.



I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent in the last 2 months late at night sitting in my living room staring at a blank wordpress text entry field trying to remember even one of those brilliant blog topics I thought of throughout the day. Staring blankly and typing nothing, clicking over to twitter and tumblr hoping for a spark of inspiration and getting nothing, and going back to staring at the empty screen. And then eventually I give up and write nothing and then go to bed feeling all of the failures. I’ve noticed it because I’ve been paying attention to it, but I’ve wrestled with this same thing just playing out at different times and different places all of my life.

I’ve mentioned Steven King’s On Writing before – it’s the greatest book about writing I’ve ever read. In it he talks about his writing sanctuary, a private place he goes to every day to get lost in his work and spends the same X hours every day just writing there. He talks in depth about the requirements of this space and peace and quiet and ‘do not disturb’ are huge cornerstones of it for him. I’ve seen other writers – writers who actually write stuff mind you – talk about similar spaces. I’ve tried to recreate that, again and again to be honest and each one has been a disaster. I don’t really find sanctuary in sanctuary. But I keep trying because I have some twisted perception that it’s what I should be doing.

Which is stupid, and I know it’s stupid. Everyone has their own thing that works for them. What’s even more stupid is that it took me reading this column by Henry Rollins to realize and accept what works for me. I don’t know what I was in such denial, or why I needed someone else to say it was OK for me to be comfortable with it.

The work (and I’m talking about writing here) I’ve been most proud of has never been created in sanctuaries. It’s been spit out at coffee shops and cafes. I find a corner, put on headphones that block the rest of the world out of my ears and blast music that inspires. It’s important, I’ve found anyway, that it can’t be the absolute most favorite music because then I end up just singing along and not getting any work done. If I put on Gorilla Biscuits I’m not going to write shit. But if I put on My Bloody Valentine I turn into a fountain. Seeing the world fly around me, while being protected in my little music bubble is my happy place. It’s my briar patch.

But it really is the combination of the two. Just sitting at a coffee shop trying to write is no good. The sound of the world is too distracting. When I can actually hear what people are saying to each other I get nothing from it. When I block out that reality and put my own soundtrack on the world then I create my own stories to fill those gaps. Like how your brain fills in the blind spots in your field of vision, when I cut out part of the story it’s much easier to force manifestation of some replacement.

This is one of those posts that means more to me than to you, but thanks for sitting through it regardless.


This is a post about television. I spent a huge number of years of my life watching little to no television so if you hate television I completely respect that. And I’d agree that most of it is bullshit. On occasion though a series, when you let it, can really steal you away. It goes from being just TV to being cinematic. Of course the best way to view something like this is all at once, a full season at a time. Anyone who ever watched The Wire or Deadwood in a single sitting can testify to that. These shows have the ability to steal you away. To forcefully pull you into their universe. It’s not terribly different that what you want from a good film, and that’s what good TV is all about.

And you can’t have good shows without good characters. The ones you can relate to, or the ones you wish you could. The fantasy of living in the shoes of a good character can be addictive.

One of my earliest TV memories ever took place when I was 3 or 4 years old, I would watch Welcome Back Kotter and felt a strong connection to the Sweathogs. Even at that early age I was drawn to the outsiders. I used to have a pair of jeans that, while I don’t remember a thing about them, must have somehow been similar to the clothes the guys on the show wore because I had to wear them anytime I was watching it. I was too young to understand that there was really no chance of the actors on my TV screen looking back out into the world of eyes glued on them, spotting me, and being so impressed by my jeans that they’d pull me into the program and I could hang out with them. Part of it was that I didn’t fully understand the technology behind these moving pictures being beamed into my house, but part of it was that I felt comfortable in the universe the writers had created and could see myself being friends with the characters. In a way I’ve judged much of the entertainment I’ve been exposed to sense through a similar lens – could I see myself as a part of this.

Movies, music, everything – the things that I have the strongest connections and attachements too are the ones that I can relate to.

That’s one of the reasons I love Girls so hard. I read a comment about it early on in the first seasons, written by someone I’ve forgotten but have immense respect for because they completely nailed it. They noted that the thing about Girls that will freak people out the most is that the main characters aren’t the pretty people. They aren’t the perfect ones or the ones that have it all figured out. Quite the oposite, they are flawed and ugly and fat and scared and lost. But most importantly – they are comfortable with that. They like themselves. Any other show that had characters like any of the people on Girls would put them in the jester roll, jokes would be made at their expense and there would be some storyline floating around about how these people wanted to “change” and be like everyone else. Lena Dunham has done the world an amazing service with this series by creating these characters who don’t give a fuck about any of that. I feel like these characters are in my circle of friends.

I wish I had role models like this when I was growing up. It would have been so awesome to know that it’s OK to not have all the answers, and it’s OK to make mistakes while trying to figure them out.

Punk rock gave me a great set of tools for not giving a shit what other people thought about me, but it took a long time for me to be OK with the person I actually was. Figuring that shit out and accepting it is no small task. It would have been awesome to know other people had made it through to the other side and survived.

Fighting your way to the middle

My friend Scott Fisher asked to give a last minute talk to his class at USC the other day. The topic request was vague – Safecast, Hackerspaces, whatever else comes up. I really like discussions that are more open ended like this and was excited to see which things I had to say sparked the students attention. The first hour was a lot of straight forward presentation with the second hour (d)evolving into more question and answer about life and philosophy rather than any particular topic.

Things took a twist when one student suggested that all my projects seem to be very successful, and I had to correct him and note that I don’t get asked to come talk about the failures. At which point we started talking about all the trials and errors you go through before those “successes.” I pointed out – hopefully clearly enough that everyone got what I was getting at – that the failures aren’t actually a bad thing, aren’t actually failures. They are lessons. They are steps. You have to take those steps if you want to go anywhere, if you want to pull anything off. Refusing to take those chances ensures you won’t have any successes. It demands risk. That’s either a chance you want to take or not. Some people can’t stomach the risk, some people can’t live without it.

One student asked me what the biggest mistake I ever made was. How the hell do you answer a question like that? I answered that I didn’t know what the biggest mistake was, but talked about a decision that I’d made a few years back – I walked away from a company shortly before it sold for many, many, many millions of dollars. Some of which would have ended up in my pocket. Had I chosen the other option – my life would be very, very different right now. But maybe not for the better – just different. Scott noted, excellently I might add, that had I chosen that other route many of the cool things I was there to talk about may never have happened. Or at least, I might not have been involved with them.

I’ve been thinking about that conversation a lot since then, and I think I might have given the students the wrong idea. I don’t think that decision was a mistake. I may have suggested that I did, or may have given that impression. I’m very happy with the direction I’ve chosen for my life. I don’t regret that choice at all. I probably should have made that more clear – my point was more that sometimes small decisions can have huge impacts and that specific situation just happened to be on my mind that day.

I think what I would have liked to express a bit clearer to those students before they graduate and head out to the world is that a lot of people spend endless effort fighting to get to the middle. The spend their whole lives trying to do the same thing everyone else does. To me, there’s nothing appealing about that at all. In fact, the more people doing something the less attractive it is to me. Or rather, it’s less interesting. And the rewards for doing it are less satisfying.

Horray! You did the same thing as everyone else! Way to go!


I’d so much rather spend my time and efforts on something new. On something different. Maybe that is the road paved with endless failures lessons, but it’s also the road that can lead to massive success. And it certainly leads to massive satisfaction. If you spend all your time doing the same thing as everyone else, the absolute best thing you can hope for is mediocrity. If you spend your time on things you think are awesome, the worst thing that can happen is you look back to see you spent your short time here on this planet doing things you think are awesome. Not a single person fighting for the middle can say that. This route isn’t paved with fame or fortune, but I can’t fathom choosing any other way.

I want those kids to know that.

It’s not about failures vs successes, it’s about choosing to do the things you love.

Blood & Guts

Woman in Paris

Did you see how easy that was? Miss writing one day and the next day is that much easier. The third day is a piece of cake and you don’t even realize the 4th day has passed. Next thing you know… months.

Hemingway said “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed”

I’ve been haunted by this quote for as long as I can remember putting fingers to keyboard. For a very long time I waved it around as justification what whatever I’d write. And I wrote everything. The good, bad and ugly. Except there wasn’t much good, quite a lot of it was bad and all of it was ugly. Anyone with copies of my old ‘zine ‘chicksdigrockstars’ can attest to that. I was angry. I was lonely. I blamed everyone. I thought I deserved it. And I wrote all of that down and put it out into the world. It made me feel better.

I think it made some other people feel worse.

Unintended casualties.

I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone, I was just trying to make sense of what I was feeling. Or in many cases just trying to feel something. I’ve spent a lot of hours talking to therapists in my life for a variety of different reasons – divorces, suicide attempts – you know, the usual. One thing every single one of them has noted is that I’m incredibly good at building walls. It’s a defense mechanism that I likely mastered sometime in childhood. I compartmentalize.I build up walls and don’t let anything from one get to the other. That way if one thing crashes and burns nothing else is impacted. My life could be falling apart and I can still enjoy a cup of coffee at the corner cafe and have a pleasant conversation with a friend I might run into there. I can recall horrific shit that has happened to me without upping my hear rate.

I have always taken that as a complement, though I’m not sure it was ever intended that way. It is what it is.

That’s not to say things don’t get to me, they most certainly fucking do. I just good at packing them up and storing them away for some other rainy day when apparently they will all come bursting out uncontrollably. That will be fun.

But anyway, the writing has always been my own brand of therapy. It’s helped me clear the air, put things out there and then leave them in the past. The stuff I’ve written about I’m done with. It doesn’t haunt me anymore. By laying it all out there, I guess I face up to it publicly. Then it’s not a secret. There’s no potential “gotcha” lying in wait, because I’ve already disclosed everything. I used to pride myself on that actually – that the worst things in the world that could be said about me, were in fact said by me, so anything anyone else could come up with was inconsequential.

But then I realized that things I’d written had hurt other people and I was faced with a decision that I’ve still never made a clear call on. Do I write something and make myself feel better and potentially hurt someone or do I keep it locked up to save other people’s feelings? Who is more important to save?

I don’t even know how many pieces I’ve written and then deleted because I was worried how people might take them. It’s a lot for sure. I wish I’d saved them but I didn’t. And I probably won’t in the future either. But writing them doesn’t help. Publishing is what makes all the difference. As Hemingway said, you have to bleed. But if no one else ever reads it then it doesn’t really count.

Maybe that’s how people write fiction. So they have deniability. That gut wrenching piece about being abused as a child by adults you were supposed to be able to trust and who were supposed to be the ones protecting you? Just imagination. All those stories about stealing credit cards, selling drugs and generally running afoul of the law? Artistic license. All those disgusting sexual fantasies? Just fantasy. If it’s all made up, suddenly everything is OK to write about. That story about an ex-girlfriend isn’t “actually” about anyone in particular, just a bunch of made up shit thrown together. There’s nothing actionable in that story about breaking into cars and stealing stereos because it only happened in my head. Feelings can’t get hurt because it’s all fake. Even if it’s not.

Writing fiction has never made any sense to me, until now. Suddenly it makes all the sense in the world and I don’t know why I’ve ever written anything else.


One of the amusing tidbits in past was the year I spent working as a bouncer at a rave club in Gainesville, FL. Or rather, the rave club. In the whole south east. The place was legendary and people would travel from all corners of the world for special events there. The head of security had realized at one point that the biggest problem was that his staff would often abandon their duties to dance and get loaded during the headliners. To combat this he fired all of them and hired a team of people who he knew would have no interest in who was DJing, and no loyalties among the clientele – Straight Edge kids and Skinheads.

Turns out that a gang of teetotalers with no aversion to violence make really good security at a place like that.

The money was great even if the hours really sucked. Fridays and Saturdays often resulted in working until and hour or two after the sun came up. But we got paid in cash at the end of the night, and immediate financial gratification made 10 hours of untz untz untz almost tolerable.

I’ve got plenty of amazing stories to share about what when on during those long nights, past the long lines – and I will likely fill a chapter in a book with nothing but that at some point. But the most interesting, and frightening thing that happened wasn’t so much behind closed doors, but inside of ourselves. Well, I don’t want to speak for anyone else – inside of myself.


Man on step, Shibuya

I’ve been incredibly fascinated with a string of recently launched apps/services that are designed to make hooking up with people (specifically people you already know) much easier. Bang With Friends & Bang With Professionals which hook up to your existing networks – Facebook or LinkedIn respectively – and lets you choose people you want to have sex with. Would Love 2 does the same thing but with a focus on a relationship rather than just sex. In fact WL2’s tagline is “taking the rejection out of dating.” The details of the people you’ve OK’d is kept private but your friends are asked to make their own lists. When a match is detected, both people are notified and left to their own devices presumably to work out the bits and pieces since both sides have already expressed interest. By all accounts these services are taking off like crazy.

I’ve been talking about these on Twitter and Google+ a bit but haven’t blogged about them because I haven’t really figured out exactly what I think just yet, and in fact keep having further conversations with myself about them. I thought I should just go ahead and throw some of this out there rather than continue amassing all these ideas with no real direction.

One reaction to this is simply “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that!” – We all joke (though not really joking) about how much of online activity and profiles and networking is done with the not so obvious motive of hooking up. So on that level this isn’t surprising at all, and in fact makes tons of sense. A no brainer if ever their was one – just streamline the process and remove as much friction as you can. Well, remove the friction beforehand anyway, friction later is… well you know what I mean.

But there’s another thing to think about here, and that is why is this so attractive? Or rather, what are all the different aspects of this that make it attractive? The removal of rejection is the most straight forward. No one likes rejection and being able to start a relationship without risking any rejection is almost too good to be true. I’m jaded and suspicious so I’d assume that people added me to their list just to laugh in my face if I added them to mine, but I know that’s just my own neurosis. (Also, worth noting: I’m happily married so I don’t have a list and I’m not using the apps, I just find them super intriguing and I remember dating and it’s interesting to think how the existence of something like this would have changed the dynamic in high school or whatever)

But there are so many questions here – why are we (as a society) so afraid of rejection? Isn’t learning how to deal with rejection part of being human? Last year The Guardian wrote about the end of monogamy and I can’t help but think that piece almost foreshadowed these launches. Are we so lonely, even when we’re with people, that this seems like the most viable option? As I said I’m not really sure where my head is at with all of this but being a professional people watcher, I think there’s some rather interesting conclusions to be drawn here. I welcome any thoughts on this to help try to mold a hypothesis.